Le Havre The Inland Port is a 2-player version of the original Le Havre game. Like Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small, it takes a more complex version of a game and makes it more approachable to entry-level and casual gamers.
The game centers around 2 game board dials, where player 1’s dial is labelled A-F, player 2’s dial goes G-L, and each letter represents 1 round. Each round consists of 3-9 turns and you only have 2 options on your turn: Buy a Building or Use a Building. New buildings come out each round to increase your options each time. The buildings can be a bit cumbersome to keep in piles as they wait for their round to come out, so I opted to make a foam core insert to hold all the pieces.
Depending which player starts first and what buildings they want to purchase in round 1, this can make each game vary. However, my biggest concern is that the buildings are always the same and come out at the same time each game, which might get repetitive. With Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small, they released 2 expansions of new building tiles, which keep the game fresh each time. It would be nice if this becomes the case with Le Havre.
Buildings cost X number of goods or Francs and in return count towards your final victory points (as do Francs left in your hand), and they also activate special abilities when used. The strength of those abilities is determined by the dial.
When you first purchase a building it goes at the 0 marker of the dial board. The next round, the dial is turned, and the buildings are worth 2 uses. If the building isn’t used that round, it’s worth 3 in the following round. Then 4, 4 plus one Franc, and then finally if it goes unused that entire time, it’s worthless and restarts. You can use your opponent’s buildings as well for a 1 Franc fee, so any building in the 2-4 mark is fair game.
Each time a building is used, it gets placed back at the 0 mark, which is a great way to keep track of turns that round. If player 1 went first and there are 4 buildings total at the 0 mark point, it’s player 1’s turn next. Each turn, you either have to buy or use a building, both of which also put it at 0, so it’s a great system to keep track of turns.
As the game progresses, you’ll want to set yourself up by using buildings to stockpile goods and money, as buildings get substantially more expensive towards the end of the game. You track your goods on tracking boards, which are nice elements to the game.
Overall, Le Havre The Inland Port is a fun game, but it takes longer than you think it will to play. It starts out quickly, so you think you might be done in 10 minutes, but can turn into 45-60 minutes depending how you play and strategize. My biggest concern is replayability, since at the time of this post, there aren’t any expansions available for new buildings. It’s definitely worth playing and checking out, but will it hold up after 30-50 plays? Only time will tell.